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Who wrote the book of Malachi? Who was the author of Malachi?

author of Malachi

The book of Malachi was written by the prophet Malachi. It is the final book in the Christian Old Testament, and it is often cited in conversations surrounding divorce and tithing. In the Tanakh, it concludes the Neviim (“Prophets”) section and the collection of the Minor Prophets, though it is not the final book of the Tanakh. Malachi’s themes go beyond divorce and tithing, offering insight into the spiritual state of the Israelites after their return from Babylon. The initial zeal during Nehemiah and Ezra’s day gave way to apathy, corruption, and detestable practices among God’s people. The Israelites also questioned God’s love because they haven’t received the promises they expected to get (Malachi 1:2–3). In this challenging scenario, Malachi pronounced judgment, urged repentance, and proclaimed future hope. It is significant that his name means “messenger,” as he was the last prophet before the intertestamental period.

The superscription attributes the words to Malachi, but little is known about the prophet himself. Unlike other prophets, Malachi provides no family ties, geographical location, or ruling leader. Due to this lack of information, scholars debate Malachi’s identity. Some argue that Malachi is either a pen name or a title since the name means “messenger.” Jewish tradition suggests Ezra the scribe wrote the book under the pen name. If that is accurate, then the book was written either soon after the reconstructed temple or later, when Ezra aged. There are similarities between the issues addressed in Ezra and Malachi that contribute to this view.

However, when compared to other prophetic literature, the superscription seems to indicate that Malachi is a real name, as the use of pen names was rare in prophetic works. Ezra, in his eponymous work, did not use a pen name. Therefore, it is more probable that Malachi was a historical figure, though information on him is limited.

Malachi employs a unique rhetorical style, presenting his messages as a series of disputes and responses. The prophet makes a declaration, envisions an objection, and responds accordingly. The first dispute (Malachi 1:2–5) addresses Israel’s skepticism of God’s love. The second confronts improper religious practices (Malachi 1:6–9). The third dispute (Malachi 2:10–16) addresses men who mistreated their wives and those who married idolatrous women. The pattern of dispute-and-response continues as Malachi addresses Israel’s accusing God of neglect (Malachi 2:17—3:5), their selfishness reflected in the refusal to tithe (Malachi 3:6–12), and their complaints over the apparent success of evil people (Malachi 3:13–18).

In the concluding passages, Malachi touches on the day of the Lord, a theme consistent with other prophets. This day is terrifying for evildoers but a source of joy for the faithful remnant. As the book of Malachi draws to a close, God promises, “See, I will send the prophet Elijah to you before that great and dreadful day of the Lord comes” (‭‭‭‭Malachi‬ ‭4:5‬). Jesus identifies this prophet as John the Baptist, who paved the way for the Messiah (Matthew 11:13–14; 17:10–13; Mark 9:11–13).

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Who wrote the book of Malachi? Who was the author of Malachi?
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This page last updated: May 2, 2024